Regardless of the situation, this should always be our response.
“It is well with my soul.”
Such is the central theme of a hymn written in 1873 by H.G. Spafford and set to music by Philip Paul Bliss. And, with God’s help this can also become our testimony whenever things are falling apart.
Spafford, a very successful lawyer in Chicago, lost everything in the massive fire that ravaged that large city on October 8, 1871. A year prior to that he and his wife, Anna, lost their four-year-old son to scarlet fever. Understandably, the combination of the two events devastated them and two years later the devout Christian businessman, his wife and four daughters decided to go on vacation to Europe.
Because of a last-second commitment, Spafford couldn’t accompany them, but promised to join them shortly thereafter. But, those plans were turned upside down when their cruise ship was hit broadside at night by another vessel on November 22, 1873. Within 12 minutes the ship sank, taking the lives of 226 passengers—the largest maritime disaster in U.S. history until the sinking of the Titanic.
After hearing about the crash, Spafford received a telegram from his wife that basically said “Saved alone.” Only then did he realize his four daughters had been among those who perished.
He quickly boarded a ship out of New York to join his grief-stricken, still-in-shock wife in Wales. While enroute, the captain called him to his quarters and told him they were in the general area where the ship sank.
As he returned to his cabin, he stood outside on the deck, peering down into the dark, cold Atlantic waters. Then, he went into his room, sat down and composed the words to the beloved hymn, “It Is Well.”
After returning to the states, he contacted Bliss, a well-known hymn writer and friend, and asked him to set the lyrics to music. It became an instant success in Christian circles all across the United States.
On December 29, 1876 Bliss and his wife were traveling to Chicago for a New Year’s singing convention from their home in Buffalo, New York. As they were crossing into Ohio, the wooden, trestle bridge beneath the train gave way, plunging the cars into the icy river some 75’ below.
Some were killed by the crash; others drowned in the river. But, Bliss, though slightly injured, managed to escape through a window. He then realized his wife was trapped in the wreckage and no amount of effort could free her.
Suddenly, a fire broke out and the famed composer had to make a split second decision: would he leave his wife to perish alone for the sake of their children back in Buffalo? Or, would he sit down and face the flames with her?
He chose the latter. And, we must believe they were likely singing “It Is Well With My Soul” as they perished in the fire.
What was it that enabled both the Spaffords and Blisses to face such tragedies without giving in to hopeless despair?
The answer was simple: it was their faith in an unchanging, always-sustaining God and their personal relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. And, dear Reader, the same can be true for us when we, like them, also place our trust in this One Who conquered death and the grave and said “I’ll never leave you or forsake you.”
Do you have that inward hope and assurance? Have you, like them, come to that place where you can “give thanks in all things” (I Thessalonians 5:18) because you know God “works everything together for your good and His Glory” (Romans 8:28)?
If so, praise the Lord. If not, here’s praying you’ll soon surrender your life to a sparrow-watching, hair-counting, tear-catching God Who loves you very, very much. God bless you.
NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 10614, Fort Smith, AR 72917 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.